PortsToronto celebrates 160th annual Beaver Hat Ceremony with the arrival of the first ship of the season

PortsToronto Manager of Harbour Operations Michael Riehl “crowns” Captain Sumit Kumar of the MV Federal Hudson during the Port of Toronto’s 160th annual Beaver Hat Ceremony.

Toronto (April 7, 2021) – In a sure sign that spring is here, earlier this morning, PortsToronto “crowned” Captain Sumit Kumar of the MV Federal Hudson with an antique silk and beaver top hat – first presented in the spring of 1861– at the annual Beaver Hat Ceremony. For the past 160 years, PortsToronto has celebrated the official opening of the commercial shipping season by crowning the captain of the first ocean-going vessel or “saltie” to arrive at the port.
Appropriate precautions were taken to ensure that this longstanding tradition could safely take place. Captain Kumar participated in the ceremony from the bridge of the MV Federal Hudson while PortsToronto Manager of Harbour Operations, Michael Riehl, remained on the dock wall.
In 2020, the Port of Toronto moved more than two million metric tonnes of bulk and general cargo products, which represents another strong year in marine imports for the city. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020 the Port of Toronto experienced another strong year in steel imports, received the highest cement cargo levels in 16 years, and saw the return of Short Sea Shipping—demonstrating the Port’s position as a vital part of Toronto’s economic infrastructure and movement of goods.
“The Beaver Hat Ceremony is a 160-year old tradition at the Port of Toronto, marking the annual opening of a vital marine gateway that provides Canadian and international businesses with a convenient, sustainable and cost-effective way to bring goods into the heart of the city,” said Geoffrey Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, PortsToronto. “As we collectively inch toward normalcy following a difficult pandemic year in 2020, traditions such as these are a reminder of the longstanding resilience of our marine shipping industry, which has maintained the delivery of goods to many key sectors in the Greater Toronto Area and will continue to do so throughout the 2021 shipping season and beyond.”
The Port of Toronto’s first Harbour Master, Hugh Richardson, initiated the idea to entice ships to bring building materials into the harbour as early as possible each year, allowing Toronto—then a burgeoning city—to start its building season.
Originally begun as a celebration of the first ship to enter the harbour each year, the annual tradition now celebrates the arrival of the first ocean-going ship of the season, also known as a “saltie.” This year the first ship was the MV Federal Hudson, which arrived in the Port of Toronto from Maceio, Brazil with 22,741 metric tonnes of sugar for the Redpath Refinery. The annual ceremony also celebrates the commencement of the 2021 shipping season.
About the Port of Toronto
Since 1793, the Port of Toronto has served as Toronto’s gateway to the St. Lawrence Seaway and to marine ports around the world. Serving primarily as a bulk cargo destination, the port boasts a unique location minutes from Toronto’s downtown and moves goods from countries as far away as Germany, South Korea, China, Brazil, Australia, South America and the United States. In addition to managing the movement of ships through the harbour, PortsToronto is the owner and operator of Marine Terminals 51, 52 and the Cruise Ship Terminal within the Port of Toronto.
The Port of Toronto is one of Canada's inland ports and is situated on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario. Located minutes from Toronto's downtown core, the Port provides a seamless network of cost-effective intermodal links to road, rail and air transportation, serving as a unique and crucial piece of economic infrastructure. Marine cargo arriving and managed at the Port of Toronto generated $377.7 million in economic activity and 1,566 jobs in Ontario in 2017. Port also welcomes cruise ships and passengers from around the globe through the Cruise Ship Terminal.
Take a virtual tour of the Port of Toronto to learn about the important role the Port plays in Canada's transportation network as well as the environmental benefit of marine transportation.
About PortsToronto
For more than 100 years PortsToronto has worked with its partners at the federal, provincial and municipal levels to enhance the economic growth of the City of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. PortsToronto owns and operates Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport; the Outer Harbour Marina, one of Canada's largest freshwater marinas; and, Marine Terminal 52, which provides transportation, distribution, storage and container services to businesses at the Port of Toronto. PortsToronto is committed to fostering strong, healthy and sustainable communities and has invested more than $12 million since 2009 in charitable initiatives and environmental programs that benefit communities along Toronto's waterfront and beyond. PortsToronto operates in accordance with the Canada Marine Act and is guided by a nine-member board with representation from all three levels of government.
Media Contact:
Jessica Pellerin
Media Relations and Public Affairs Specialist
Cell: (647) 298-0585
E-mail: jpellerin@portstoronto.com